Saturday, 21 January 2012

Civil War Cannonball holes in the tower of St James's Church, and some Geese.

Canada geese and gulls on a windy "Crammer" pond.
The canada geese and gulls seem to like the "Crammer" pond, where they receive daily a goodly amount of food and never want to fly off home.  St James's Church can be seen in the background of the photo, with its graveyard and the new wall at the water's edge.  The old wall collapsed into the pond two years ago, and a big tussle ensued as to who was to pay for a new wall.  I think the church and the local council eventually came to some arrangement.  This church is one of three large medieval churches in Devizes, and very unusual for a small town.  The following website:  is worth reading, as it gives more information about this church.  Type St James's Church in the search box.   It has been very mild here of late, and in the graveyard,  little clumps of snowdrops are beginning to show their tiny white heads.
St James's Church on a dark and windy Saturday morning.
This photo makes the morning appear far darker than it was, and reminds me of the church and graveyard in Haworth in Yorkshire, where the famous Bronte sisters lived and wrote their novels.  I was so immersed in taking these photos, that when the clock suddenly struck 12 noon, it frightened me to death!
The tower showing two canonball holes.
If you look carefully at the tower you can see two black holes in the stonework.  These are canonball holes made by guns firing at the church from Coatefield up on the old Jump Farm.  During the English civil war a battle took place on Roundway Down in Devizes on July 13th 1643.  The day before, the Royalist became trapped by the Roundheads, who besieged the town with canon and guns.   The Royalist Prince Rupert managed to escape and rode to Oxford for reinforcements, who returned to Devizes and met the Roundheads up on the Down, where a bloody battle ensued.  The Royalists won, having driven some of the Roundhead horsemen over and into "Bloody Ditch."   Very nasty!  

On the battlefield site platforms have been erected which give an elevated view of the whole scene.  Information boards provide details of the battle at each particular position, and you can almost hear the sound of the horses and screaming soldiers and the smell of death and blood!   Not a place to visit in the dead of night.
A closeup, showing more detail of the canonball holes.  The Roundheads mounted their canon on a hill overlooking the town and  fired shots at the church where the Royalist had taken refuge.  In the mid 19th century two canonballs were discovered in the bell tower,  and these are now displayed in  Devizes Museum.  Few relics of the battle have been found.  I assume the bodies were stripped of valuables, so no trace was left, and the body of only one soldier is buried in Bromham Churchyard.

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